Monday, October 5

21

Something Bigger Than Love 2: 6 - 8

SIX



Obinna opened the small gate and entered.

Francis was sitting on a short bench in front of his small house, legs crossed, his fingers fiddling with his radio.

Obinna raised a hand to him in greeting.

Go back, go lock that gate,’ Francis told him.


Obinna turned to his back. ‘But I met it open na.’

Go lock am.’

He stared at him and then walked back and bolted the gate.

Upstairs, Grace opened the door for him and suddenly drew back. ‘It is you!’ she said.

‘Yes, me,’ Obinna said.

‘Oh, my dear, even though our meeting was terribly brief, you left so much an impression.’ She touched his nose with a finger. ‘It must have been this nose, I’m sure.’

Obinna was staring at her with a smile. He didn’t know what to say. He finally said ‘Thank you’.

‘You are welcome, Obinna boy, I believe your journey was calm.’

‘It was.’

‘Can I help you with your bag?’

‘No, don’t bother.’

He walked in.

Mr Johnson was on the couch.

He greeted him with a bow. ‘Good evening, sir.’

Mr Johnson turned from his phone. ‘Obinna! You are here already, I was expecting you’d call when you get into town.’

‘I found my way, sir.’

‘Oh, and I had to leave the office early just so I’d come pick you.’

‘I’m so sorry, sir.’

‘Oh, no, no. The good thing is that you are here. So how are your people?’

‘Everybody is fine, sir.’

‘That’s good.’

He opened the leather bag hanging from his shoulder and brought out something wrapped in a black polyethylene bag. He put it inside the blue bigger bag in his other hand and extended it to Mr Johnson.

‘What is that?’ Mr Johnson asked, making no attempt to take the bag from him.

‘Mama fried ukwa and then I bought banana at Ore.’

‘What is ukwa?’

He brought out the roasted and husked ukwa seeds, wrapped first in old newspaper before the poly bag, and showed to Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson looked at it and shook his head. ‘I don’t know what that is.’

Obinna smiled. ‘I told her, but she insisted you will like it when you try it. She fried it herself.’

‘I see,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘Your mother seems like a very nice woman and now I feel bad for not having given you something for her when you were travelling.’

‘I bought bread for her on the way,’ he lied.

‘Oh okay, that’s very thoughtful of you.’

‘So, sir, will you try the ukwa?’

Mr Johnson smiled his kind of smile again. ‘I may not, Obinna,’ he said. ‘But it’s a good thing you bought banana. That, I know and will eat.’

‘Ok, sir.’

‘How was your brother’s funeral?’

‘It should be fine,’ he said.

‘Should? Did you not go?’

He shook his head. He thought he would ask him why he didn’t, but Mr Johnson did not.

‘Go in. I’m sure Grace must have done cooking.’




***

Later that night, he came to join Mr Johnson in the sitting room.

A movie was showing on MNET.

Obinna enjoyed every part of it and after the running and the gunshots and the kicks have ended and the white guy kissed the woman he saved, he thought about Ada.

And just then the disturbing dream he’d had the night before flashed through his mind again.

In the dream, he’d seen all that happened that day that he saved Echezona from the well play back in his mind. But instead of the small boy now, it was Ada that fell into the well.

And when she finally gripped the bamboo and he was drawing her up, the stick broke and she plunged back into the darkness again. With her scream.

He flew up, panting and sweating.

Outside the house, owls were hooting from a corner in the dense darkness.

If his mother had been awake, she’d would have screamed, ‘Holy Ghost Fire!’ Most times, that usually caused the hooting to stop. Nothing scares a witch more than the shout of Holy Ghost Fire, after all.

He finally went back inside but he remained awake till the cock began crowing from the backyard barn and his mother came to call him to tell him to start preparing for his journey.

‘Sir, how about your wife?’ he asked.

Mr Johnson dropped the remote he was holding on the glass table and settled back into the couch.

On the TV, the credits were rolling.

For long, Mr Johnson said nothing and Obinna blamed himself for asking. He would have looked for another way to get rid of the thoughts about the dream.

A few more minutes passed without Mr Johnson saying anything still.

Now Obinna imagined the worst. His wife and kids are dead. Car accident, or maybe plane crash. He became sad. Very sad.

‘Obinna,’ Mr Johnson called finally. He leaned out of the seat and joined his fingers between his thighs.

Obinna felt terrible. He didn’t want to hear the story at all. He might not be able to hold himself and might even start to cry. Because he now felt a kind of connection with the man sitting before him. It felt as though he’d known him all his life, an elder brother he never had.

But what Mr Johnson eventually said threw him out of order. Completely.

‘You are going to be here for quite a while so it is necessary that I told you,’ Mr Johnson had begun with. ‘You see, Obinna, I’m not married.’

‘You are not?’

He shook his head. ‘Never.’

‘Okay.’

‘Yes, and I may never.’

‘Why, sir?’

There was a pause.

‘I’m not straight, Obinna,’ Mr Johnson finally said.

Obinna didn’t understand ‘not being straight’ and he told him. ‘I don’t understand, sir.’

‘Sexually, I’m not attracted to women.’

Obinna yet didn’t understand. It showed on his face.

Mr Johnson looked at him. He let out a sigh. ‘I don’t like women.’

‘Oh.’

‘Yes. I’m gay.’

‘Okay.’ He’d said okay, but he was no longer comfortable. Sudden sands of discomfort settled on him, pricking all round his skin.

He shouldn’t have come back. Or shouldn’t have asked Mr Johnson anything about his wife. Or shouldn’t have come out to the sitting room to watch a movie with him in the first place.

He suddenly felt threatened. Endangered.

His decision came swift in his mind. First thing tomorrow morning, he’d run back to Obeledu. It was just what it is—Lagos is not for him.

A new thought crept up within him. What if Mr Johnson comes into his room this night to have his way with him? The food he ate churned in his stomach, nearly getting him nauseous.

He stirred in his seat.

‘Obinna?’ Mr Johnson called. ‘Obinna, are you okay?’

He nodded, but the look on his face screamed back that he is not.

Mr Johnson smiled. ‘Hey, relax, you are safe with me, okay?’

Another nod.

Mr Johnson stared at him. ‘I don’t know what you are thinking, Obinna, but my helping you has nothing to do with what I just I told you.’

He nodded again.

***

In his room some minutes later, he kept his eyes wide open, waiting to hear the knock. Mr Johnson’s knock. He might even come into the room already naked and then dive on him. He shuddered at the thought of that.

Something was crawling round his skin. He felt cold in some parts, warm in others, completely numb in a few.

He’d thought about bringing in a weapon, but eventually didn’t. He wouldn’t injure him, just a blow heavy enough to have him destabilized till morning when he packed his things and left his house for him. His cursed gay house.

But at past 2, the knock hadn’t come.

Around 3:30, his eyes finally closed in sleep.

He woke up when it was past 11 in the morning. He quickly checked himself all over; nothing was amiss. Nobody had touched him.

Outside the room, he discovered Mr Johnson has already gone to work.

He felt a bit relieved in his absence.

When Grace came later in the day and started with her jokes, he almost forgot about it all.

***

Mr Johnson returned home quite late. Setting his eyes on him again, the feelings suddenly returned.

His ‘Good evening’ was muffled, coming from the back of his throat.

Later, he came to the sitting room to meet him, face unsmiling. ‘Why do you not like women?’ he asked as soon as he sat down.

Mr Johnson gave a smile that didn’t come from amusement. ‘Obinna, I really don’t know. Believe me I tried, did everything I could, it just didn’t work.’

‘All men love women.’

‘Well, you are wrong.’

‘What do you enjoying sleeping with a fellow man?’

‘You are talking about sex?’

‘Yes.’

Mr Johnson sighed heavily. ‘Let me ask you, Obinna, do you have a girlfriend?’

‘I have a wife.’

‘Oh.’

‘Yes.’

‘So, do you have sex with her all the time?’

‘No.’

‘Is sex the only thing that comes to your mind when you think of her?’

‘No.’

Mr Johnson sighed again. ‘Sexual co-ordination goes beyond sex, my boy.’

He felt Mr Johnson was using big grammar to confuse him and his anger soared. ‘So are you saying you don’t have sex with your fellow men?’ he asked him.

‘I’ve not had sex in three years now.’

‘Why?’

‘Are you afraid of me, Obinna?’ Mr Johnson asked him instead.

‘How?’

‘You are afraid that I’d touch you, isn’t it?’

‘Yes.’

Mr Johnson looked on and then exhaled. At that moment, in his eyes, Obinna glimpsed on something. A wish. A great yearning that things had been different. He wasn’t having fun with this, he found a part of him realizing.

‘Well, Obinna, you are wrong,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘I have no intention of luring you to bed.’

Obinna inhaled deeply and said nothing.

‘Let me ask you, Obinna,’ Mr Johnson said, ‘have you raped a woman before?’

He quickly shook his head. ‘No.’

‘Do you think it’s something you can do?’

‘No. I can’t do it.’

Mr Johnson gave a slight nod he didn’t understand. ‘I won’t rape you, Obinna,’ he said. 'I just told you so that you don’t keep asking me about wife and kids and marriage, that’s all.’

‘So you will never get married?’

‘I won’t. I hate to lie. Never been good at it.’

Obinna took a deep breath and turned his eyes into the air.

***

After two days and nothing has happened and everything still appeared to be normal, he stopped feeling so disturbed.

But in the night, he had another dream.

He was in a strange lonely forest, digging with a shovel. His heart was terribly sad. Evil birds shrieked from the surrounding trees.

It was only after the rectangular pit was nearly his height and he jumped out of it that he saw who he was preparing to bury.

Ada.

 

SEVEN



Kennedy came downstairs in the morning holding a pack of crackers.

He saw Ada sprawled on the couch, face down, and shook head. ‘Having a nice time, huh?’ he muttered, a small smile on his face.

He threw one slice of biscuit into his mouth and turned to walk back upstairs again.

***

It was almost noon when he came down again.

Ada was still in the same position on the couch. He inclined his head and muttered, ‘That’s strange.’

He walked over to her and tapped her lightly on the shoulder. ‘Hey. Wake up, sleepyhead, don’t you have a bus to catch?’

Ada did not budge.

He tapped her gain.

Nothing.

Again, and nothing still.

He rolled his eyes upward, his brow furrowing in slight confusion.

When he turned her over and checked her pulse, three words flew out of him.

‘What tha hell!’

He felt the side of her face again, and then her wrist. He shrugged, eyes narrowing in confusion.

He shook her. ‘Hey,’ he called. ‘Hey, can you hear me?’

He sat down and carried Ada’s body on to his lap; her arms dropped limply down.

He shook her a few more times, then steadied his eyes into the air in thought.

He carried her back to the couch, stood and walked upstairs.

Soon, he’d returned to the sitting room with his silver kit and was preparing another injection.

He injected her again, on the arm.

***

By 3, Ada was still limp, immobile and lifeless.

Ken sat on the other couch, thinking.

‘Okay, let’s say it was an overdose,’ he was muttering to himself. ‘So what do you do when you give an overdose?’

He paused.

‘You give an antidote, of course! And that’s just what I’ve done, so? Why is she not up and about yet?’

He paused.

‘Okay, let’s say it was a side reaction. What do you do when that happens too?’

He paused.

‘Of course, you still give an antidote. And that’s just what I’ve done, so?’

He inhaled deeply.

‘Okay, last possible option, it was the wrong injection, the wrong bottle.’

He shook his head. ‘But damn, I make no mistake.’ He shook his head again. ‘Nah! That’s not it. Can’t be. I make no mistakes. Not this time, not never. Whatever they said at the board that time was all bullshit, I know that. I make no mistake, I don’t. It was just some malicious contention back then, I know, some concocted fable to take away my license. I don’t do no mistake.’

By his side, Ada’s phone flashed green and started to vibrate and beep again.

He picked it and checked the caller. It was Felix again. He’d been calling since afternoon.

He dropped the phone aside and slipped into his mind again.

Soon, the handset started to beep again. He picked it and hurled it to the wall.

The device shattered into several parts.

At 6, Ada was still the same.

When Felix called his own line, he told him Ada has left since morning and should be close to her destination as they speak.

‘Been trying to reach her,’ Felix said. ‘I can’t get through to her line.’

‘Well, I don’t know about that, Feliciano.’ He hung up.

At around 1 a.m. the next morning, Ken lifted her onto his back and carried her upstairs, into his special room.

The room was more a laboratory than anything else.

The wide table in the middle of the space was crowded with different kinds of laboratory glassware: beakers, flasks, reagent bottles, test tubes, watch glasses, graduated cylinders, titration burettes and pipettes, filter and thistle funnels, petri dishes and the sorts.

By the corner of the table, a microscope sat amidst some other appliances on a platform. The air was strong with the smell of chemicals.

He laid Ada on the camp bed sitting by the wall and took his coat hanging above the wall, on a nail half buried into it.

He wore latex gloves over his fingers and walked to his laptop on the other table and set to work.

But two days gone, Ada was still the same.

Felix was calling his line and sending loads of messages. He never took the calls but he always read the messages.

At around 2 a.m. in the morning of the third day, he carried Ada onto his back and left the house. He put her in the back of his car and drove off into the darkness.

At the break of dawn, the body of a young girl was found at a corner of the small bush just beside the estate gate.


 

EIGHT

Grace came to work early on weekends. Sometimes as early as 6.

But that Saturday, she came a little earlier.

Obinna was outside, washing Mr Johnson’s car when the gate opened and she walked in. Her steps were slow, heavy, and her eyes blank.

She didn’t respond when Obinna said ‘Good morning’ to her.

She only turned, and, very quietly, said to him, ‘That’s not your job to do’. She turned and walked past.

‘Grace?’ Obinna called, looking at her with confusion.

‘Grace?’ he called her again.

Grace turned back to him. ‘Francis is responsible for washing the cars,’ she said.

‘Grace, what is wrong with you?’ Obinna asked.

Grace shook her head weakly, turning to her front again.

Quickly, Obinna dropped the wet cloth in his hand into the bucket and ran to her front. ‘What is the matter?’

A tear ran down Grace’s cheek and she quickly cut it off with a finger.

Obinna was now very uncomfortable. ‘Grace, talk to me.’

‘How evil can people be?’ Grace said.

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Just outside the estate, I saw a group of people.’

‘Yes?’

Grace sniffled. ‘There is a body there. A pretty young girl. Oh God, I’m never going to feel well again in weeks.’

She heard the sound of a gate opening and turned. She only was just able to glimpse on his orange shirt before he disappeared through the gate.

He’d flown like air.

He ran all the way to the estate gate, never stopping, never looking, till he saw the small crowd.

He quickly pierced through, very eager to see if there is any way he could help. If the body was not a dead body yet.

But when he set eyes on the face on the ground, he snapped still and turned suddenly stiff.

***

He carried her on his back all the way to the house. He didn’t believe she was dead.

He didn’t think it.

There is no way she could die and he’d still be alive, breathing, seeing, and hearing— absolutely no way.

In the middle of the compound, he sat on the paved ground and cradled her onto himself. He wiped her face, called her name, nudged her to wake up and used his fingers to open her shut eyelids.

Mr Johnson and Grace ran out when they heard his piercing cry.

Francis too. For once, he called his name and asked, ‘Obinna, what is it?’

‘Who is the girl?’

Obinna continued to oscillate, to and fro like that, face flooded with tears. Thick veins stood out on his head.

Grace stood aside, her palms to her lips, eyes popped.

Mr Johnson was fast. ‘Quick! Into the car!’ he ordered.

Francis ran to the gate and left it wide open.

About twelve minutes later, they drove through the gate of Eko Hospital, Ikeja. Mr Johnson was wearing the pyjamas he’d slept in, Obinna his orange T-shirt and blue Nike shorts.

He carried her in on his back before the nurses and their stretcher could arrive.

But when the doctor, a dark middle-aged man with a short greying beard on his chin, checked her, he shook his head.

21 comments:

  1. Aww,the doc better not to shake his head on this!
    I wish she recovers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mhmmmm i have nothing to say bt.....am not ready to grief yet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh God! Dis is becoming scarier by d day. Pls let it be dt she is in Coma abeg. Dis dia love can't just die like that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My heart oo. Pls, she should not die oo.

    Pamscrib.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Daniel daniel daniel! Please stop this rough play pls pls pls! Adapter must not die o! Omg ooooooi

    ReplyDelete
  6. She cannot come and go and die. Am only scared for dat Kennedy guy cos he will rot in jail. Am sure mr Johnson n obinna will see to dat

    ReplyDelete
  7. No no no no way no way Ada can't die like that o. Please it should be a coma

    ReplyDelete
  8. I hope Ada survives. This piece is my favorite on DNBstories. The suspense and all that... I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Am just speechless right now.Ada does not deserve this,i pray a miracle happens o

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh nooo, not Ada too. This will be too much for Obinna just after Ahanna's death. What a tragedy

    ReplyDelete
  11. errrrr hellooo??? what do you mean he shook his head?? he couldn't have been shaking head o ah

    ReplyDelete
  12. Noooooo!!!!! Ada can't die please Dan, biko. Ejim Chukwu yoo gi!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ads you better be mandela ooooooooo

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hmm, after Ahanna, Ada wan follow? D guy will just die, pls Dan, we don't want tragedy again

    ReplyDelete
  15. ADA MUST NOT DIE, JUST WHEN I AM STARTING TO LIKE THE STORY, WE HAVE HAD SO MANY TRAGIC ENDINGS. THIS SHOULD BE A HAPPY ENDINGS. YOU JUST HAVE TO PLOT YOUR TWIST FOR THIS COME OUT LIKE A DREAM OR OMEN AND ADA TO LIVE ON.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ada can't just die like that now. DNB pls don't do this pls

    ReplyDelete
  17. Doctor why are you shaking your head? Do something please.

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to always express your opinion, but do not abuse others.